Zacs Tracs news: intermediate 1.5 class revamped, changes to AST1 field session timing

Our intermediate Zacs Level 1.5 course has been revamped to be more interactive for participants.

Group of snowmobilers at top of mountain with blue sky in background.
At Zacs Tracs, our mobile training courses, website and newsletters are internationally recognized for raising the bar on the level of avalanche education within the sledding community. Photo courtesy Zacs Tracs

Our intermediate Zacs Level 1.5 course has been revamped to be more interactive for participants. This program is designed for riders that have completed Zacs AST Level 1 Class and Field. The goal of Zacs 1.5 is to offer a variety of exercises and group activities that have students apply the information learned in AST Level 1. To learn more about the course content, please visit our program page

We are just sending the Avalanche Gambling card game off to get printed. This game is a mix of Poker, Go Fish and Craps. Players will be dealt a hand with cards from each of these 7 categories: Avalanche Hazard, Weather, Avalanche Problems, Terrain/Route Selection, Travel Habits, People Dynamics,and Group Size. Players will assess the risk in their hands and strategize which cards they’d like to exchange in hopes of getting a hand with lower odds or less risk. Avalanche Gambling Game Cards are exchanged with other players or with the discard pile. Poker faces are important as players can steal cards from each other so if your hand is good you better keep it to yourself! 

When the timer goes off the players will compare hands for Odds and Risk. These are different. Your hand could be high odds of something happening, but not too risky if it does. For example, let’s consider a near surface storm slab avalanche that is easily triggered. Soft storm slab avalanches don’t tend to propagate too far, they break up easier and don’t have the same trauma effect compared to deep, hard slabs. If the terrain choices during the day are conservative, even a high odds avalanche day can be quite low risk. Swap out 2 or 3 cards though and this could be a totally different hand. With 54 cards in each deck there are many combinations of hands - similar to our travels through the backcountry. 

Once the group settles on the ranking the dice will be thrown. Avalanche or no avalanche? What size? How did the groups make out? Did they have the people dynamics, travel habits and route selection to create an adequate margin of safety for everyone to return home happy and healthy? We'll see.....

Interested to test run this game of chance? We are looking for players at the Edmonton Snowmobile Tradeshow October 12-14. Come visit us at the booth to find out the timing of Zacs talks at the Presentation Area.

AST1 Field session must be completed within a year to receive an AST1 certificate

To support comprehension and retention of course content Avalanche Canada recommends that the AST1 Class and Field training sessions be conducted over consecutive days. AvCan recognizes that in some cases schedules, logistics, and geography create situations where the student chooses to complete the Class and Field sessions on separate dates in separate locations. 

AST1 courses can be purchased and completed separately. However, to earn an AST1 certificate the field session must be completed in the same season, or the season immediately following the classroom session.

Participants may take the field session any day that fits their schedule, it is simply that they will not receive a certificate if too much time has elapsed.

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